A Fillmore Unified School District committee recommended this week that the district’s six schools cut summer vacations in half despite a walkout last week of more than 550 students opposing the proposal.
The district’s 14-member Calendar Committee will make its proposal, which it approved Tuesday, at an April 11 meeting of Fillmore’s school board. The board will act on the emotionally charged issue at a later meeting.
“The majority of the people think it’s more educationally sound,” said committee member Linda Crockett, a Fillmore High School counselor.
Supporters of the revised calendar, which has been in effect for three years at Piru Elementary School, say students forget less with shorter summer vacations and require less review when they return to school in the fall.
The plan, which is supported by 97 of the district’s 142 teachers, would cut the district’s present 10-week summer vacation by four to five weeks and spread that vacation time over the school year, expanding Christmas and spring breaks by one to two weeks.
Angered by the plan, about 470 Fillmore High School students abruptly walked out of school March 22, moments before district officials were to administer a survey on the proposal, said district Supt. Marlene Davis.
The students enlisted about 80 students from Fillmore Junior High School and a handful of elementary school students in a march through downtown to the district’s office. “They were in a mob mentality,” Davis said.
The district responded by suspending the students from school Thursday afternoon and Monday. Friday was a regularly scheduled holiday.
Both teachers and high school students have expressed fears that the change might jeopardize their chances at summer jobs. Single parents have said they fear that the new schedule could foul up court-ordered custody arrangements.
Teachers, meanwhile, have expressed concern that students may be less inclined to participate in sports because they would have to practice during the proposed extended vacations during the school year. They have also raised concerns over scheduling conflicts with family members who either work or attend school in other districts.